The snow and driving in Oregon

The snow and driving in Oregon

We got snow here in Portland last week – first in several years – which made me happy. Got a few inches – nothing anyone from the Midwest would fear. I ran a few errands before everyone got out and went home to sit it out. Sit it out? Why would you do that? An inch or two of snow? What a wuss. Well, this will explain why. This was filmed about 5-10 blocks from my house just last week:

The ‘best’ one was about 40 seconds in.  As a whole, Portland has by far some of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen. I’ll include all of Oregon by extension. They can’t drive in snow and they can’t drive in rain either.

My personal favorite drivers are the ones that buy expensive Audi’s, Subaru’s, luxury SUV’s with AWD then go out into the snow feeling like kings of the world because ‘Hey man I got AWD!”. They then zip along at dry pavement speeds but don’t realize that when it comes to braking – they have the same braking ability as other cars on ice.  None.  If the surface conditions deteriorate, that heavy car actually makes the distance increase 2, 4 and 10 fold faster than you can say slip-n-slide.

Still, it was entertaining (and terrifying) to watch the many Jeeps, Range Rovers, and expensive cars I saw flying sideways through red light intersections because they didn’t realize AWD doesn’t they physics of braking distance on snow.

More fun was watching them slide for hundreds of feet with their wheels locked and pointing anywhere but into the skid.  I was skeptical of anti-lock brakes at first, but after experiencing the ability to steer while braking into a skid they sold me instantly. Our locked up friends, however, slid for dozens of feet without steering or letting go of the death-hold they had on the brake pedal which left them bouncing off poles and other cars in sadly comical fashion. I would laugh it off if it wasn’t for the fact each smash reminded me that we all pay for this in higher car insurance rates and they might have killed someone.  I went home and moved my car away from intersections and off the downhill sides of streets so they wouldn’t smash my parked car.

You’d also think Portlanders could drive in rain – but you’d again be wrong. The chronic tailgating out here turns roads into a game of bumper-cars after the first rain after the summer because they forget that roads build up oils and residue when it doesn’t rain for a while.

Another fun Portland driving past-time is what I call deadly politeness.  These drivers are so over-cautious and over-polite they actually cause dangerous road conditions.  A prime example is the inability to merge into traffic any faster than 35mph. These guys will slow down at the top of merge ramps so they can look all around and merge into traffic.  Result – the on-ramp backs up, the traffic they are merging into has to slam on the brakes or swerve to change lanes at the last second to avoid hitting these fools who are daintily trying to merge into 55mph traffic at 35mph. You can only imagine what the results look like at the top of each ramp. I saw a semi nearly jackknife and then rightly laid on the horn and gave the car driver an over-generous rating of one finger up when he tried to merge into 65mph traffic at 35-40mph.  I know because I was stuck behind said car driver on the on-ramp and got ready to tell the officer the guy in the car was 100% to blame. He just popped over in front of the semi on the top of the ramp.  “But officer, I signaled” would have been his claim – if they found all his pieces.

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